Waste biomass-to-energy supply chain management: a critical synthesis. Academic Article uri icon


  • The development of renewable energy sources has clearly emerged as a promising policy towards enhancing the fragile global energy system with its limited fossil fuel resources, as well as for reducing the related environmental problems. In this context, waste biomass utilization has emerged as a viable alternative for energy production, encompassing a wide range of potential thermochemical, physicochemical and bio-chemical processes. Two significant bottlenecks that hinder the increased biomass utilization for energy production are the cost and complexity of its logistics operations. In this manuscript, we present a critical synthesis of the relative state-of-the-art literature as this applies to all stakeholders involved in the design and management of waste biomass supply chains (WBSCs). We begin by presenting the generic system components and then the unique characteristics of WBSCs that differentiate them from traditional supply chains. We proceed by discussing state-of-the-art energy conversion technologies along with the resulting classification of all relevant literature. We then recognize the natural hierarchy of the decision-making process for the design and planning of WBSCs and provide a taxonomy of all research efforts as these are mapped on the relevant strategic, tactical and operational levels of the hierarchy. Our critical synthesis demonstrates that biomass-to-energy production is a rapidly evolving research field focusing mainly on biomass-to-energy production technologies. However, very few studies address the critical supply chain management issues, and the ones that do that, focus mainly on (i) the assessment of the potential biomass and (ii) the allocation of biomass collection sites and energy production facilities. Our analysis further allows for the identification of gaps and overlaps in the existing literature, as well as of critical future research areas.

published proceedings

  • Waste Manag

author list (cited authors)

  • Iakovou, E., Karagiannidis, A., Vlachos, D., Toka, A., & Malamakis, A.

citation count

  • 258

complete list of authors

  • Iakovou, E||Karagiannidis, A||Vlachos, D||Toka, A||Malamakis, A

publication date

  • January 2010